UAB seeking money to renovate Genomic Research Building

UAB seeking $70M for genomic research facility building

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - It’s cutting edge research happening at UAB. The university calls it precision medicine.

Basically, it is using DNA to figure out specific treatments for patients. Now, they want taxpayers to fund part of the $70 million for a research center.

UAB President Ray Watts made the presentation to the Jefferson County Commission on Tuesday. He showed preliminary renderings of what renovation of the building at 19th St. and Seventh Ave. S. could look like.

“We told the governor that this is the most important economic development you are going to have maybe in your tenure, because it’s going to have a lasting effect on years and generations in the future,” Watts said

The state of Alabama is being asked to fund $50 million of the $70 million building. Jefferson County and the city of Birmingham will be asked to fund a million dollars a year for five years.

Watts says the school will spend more than a $100 million dollars to lure researchers to work here.

“It will bring 300-400 additional high technology jobs. Most outstanding PhDs and MD’s in the country want to come and work on genomic medicine and to use data science to change the future care of our patients,” Watts said.

Dr. Selwyn Vickers, Senior Vice President of Medicine, told commissioners genomic research is the future of medicine.

“The science has a chance to take ideas to target chronic diseases, cancer, eventually hopefully change outcomes of people’s lives,” Vickers said.

Watts hopes to start construction in 12 months. Commissioner Lashunda Scales supports the project but wants to hear what the county plans to do for other universities and colleges in the county.

Watts said commitments from the county and city is necessary to leverage support from the state. A presentation to the city of Birmingham will be planned at a later date.

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